[December 14-23, 2015]
As Christmas approaches, I look back at what the last year has brought. We've been here in Bolivia for six months now, following the whirlwind of selling the house and condo, moving Grandma Mary to California, moving us to West Valley (along with the broken pipe and flood, of course), getting everything ready to go, and traveling for what seemed like forever before arriving here to find sweet people and lots of love and support.
Our first few days were filled with some sweet, joyous reunions with dear members, learning how to find things, getting used to a wholly different lifestyle and schedule, and figuring out how to stay in touch with family back home. Everything we were used to changed very quickly.
Then, with Sawyer getting sick, we had to address lots of emotions and concerns - how to support and help him and Sam from such a distance. It would have been so nice to have been able to hug them, and hold them, and let them know we were there to help, but being so far away left us to rely completely on the promises and blessings of the gospel, and on our faith and knowledge that God is in charge, knows us, loves us, knows our needs, and knows best how to help us become our best selves. Which brings us to the real message of Christmas, and the lessons we have learned by serving in the temple.
I have come to know even more than before, how important He is to us. Through the ordinances and covenants we make in the temple, through the instruction we receive there, through the peace and love present there, I have a stronger sense and testimony of how important His life and mission were to me personally and to our family. The fact that we are sealed together for eternity gives a perspective to life that can't be obtained otherwise. And if it weren't for His Atonement, His life, His example, His love and teachings, we would be left on our own.
So, as you celebrate Christmas this week, among the food and treats, gifts and gift-giving, family and friends, ponder for a few moments what life would be like without Him, and share your love and gratitude for the blessings you have with your closest loved ones - your children and your family.
We are so glad to be here. I am learning more every day. This is such a tender, enjoyable, sacred experience.
As for the rest of the week....
Monday 14 December 2015
Molly and I did the FHE for the missionaries tonight. She put together the Christmas story from the scriptures with the hymns, and we had the missionaries read all the parts while I played and she directed the hymns. She made wassail, hot cocoa, and truffles (Oreo cookies crumbled up, mixed with cream cheese, and dipped in chocolate.) It was as close as we could get to our normal Christmas tradition with our children at home.
Wednesday 16 December 2015
Rene Tapia came to visit us today. He was one of my companions in Punata. He has seven children and 20 grandchildren. Two of his children live in Spain, and two live in Argentina. He comes here frequently - he has a sister that lives in the Sarco ward, so we might get to visit some more in the future. Sweet memories.
Friday 18 December 2015
Molly and I were in charge of the Baptistry today. We had two groups who came with their youth. The last one was from Santa Cruz, and they were so very reverent and respectful. One funny thing happened - when the first girl was baptized, her long hair floated on the water, so she had to be baptized again. When I looked over at the other girls, they were all putting their hair up in buns and laughing. Cute.
I couldn't have said it better. I am so grateful for my companion, family, dear friends who have blessed and continue to bless our lives and especially my Savior Jesus Christ. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!